ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

227. General Influence of those Translations on the Philosophy of the Thirteenth Century. -- We must distinguish between the influence of the works of Aristotle and that of the Arabian and Jewish writings.

(1) Influence of the Aristotelian treatises. -- The greater works of Aristotle directed the attention of the scholastics to new problems; and they also suggested solutions which were destined to be sifted, corrected and completed before being finally incorporated in the scholastic synthesis (116). In another direction Aristotle helped to build up and establish the didactic methods of the thirteenth century (see below).

(2) Influence of the Jewish, Arabian and apocryphal treatises. -- To the writings of the Arabians and Jews the scholastics are indebted for a number of Neo-Platonic notions and a large contribution of scientific data, especially of a psycho-physiological character; also for a number of interpretations of Aristotle's doctrine, which are seen to be identical in Arabian and in scholastic philosophy. It was Avicenna especially who contributed very largely in this way to the development of many scholastic theories.

It must not, however, be inferred that the scholastics either adopted or even countenanced the philosophical systems of the Arabians. To see that they did not, we have but to observe their attitude towards those of the latter who influenced them most: towards Avicenna and Averroës among the Arabians, and towards Moses Maimonides, Avicebron and Isaac Israeli among the Jews. Averroës, in fact, they regarded as the initiator of a sort of pseudo-peripateticism to which they offered a determuined and unrelenting opposition. He was for the anti-scholastics of the thirteenth century what Scotus Eriugena had been for those of the preceding period. Avicenna likewise had his own special theories and his misleading interpretations of Aristotle, opposed by the thirteenth century scholastics. Anyhow, his influence in the schools was never so great as that of Averroës: there was a Latin Averroïsm in existence for centuries, there was never a Latin "Avicennism". Avicebron, whom none of the scholastics thought to be a Jewish philosopher, transmitted theories of considerable importance to some of their schools: Duns Scotus was glad to follow his guidance. But the doctrine thus transmiitted were freed from their monistic tendencies and transformed by the infusion of a totally new spirit. Moreover, Avicebron's pantheism and emanation were expressly and specifically combated (cf. 116). Maimonides arrested the attention of the scholastics mainly by his attempt to harmonize Aristotelianism with the Bible: they were reminded to address themselves to the similar task of harmonizing their philosophy with Catholic dogma. Apart from this happy suggestion, the philosophy of Maimomides met with no better reception from the scholastics than that of Averroës.

<< ======= >>